The Cody Rivers Show: Comedy Theatre Spectacular 

The laughs are intense and sustained at the Cody Rivers Show

Halfway through the Cody Rivers Show, Andrew Connor thanks his brain for its capacity to remember.

“Dear Brain,” he scribbles on an imagined pad. “Thanks for the memories.”

If gratitude keeps a good thing going, the Cody Rivers Show has legs of steel. The applause that erupted from the audience at Theater 99 will surely refuel this speed-loving duo as they continue their act at this year’s Piccolo Festival.

Imagine free-falling through an atmosphere of people, places, and situations while laughing gas pumps in your veins. This summarizes The Cody River Show’s uncanny ability to recite vast amounts of seemingly irrelevant information and link it into a montage of hilarious stories. It showers the audience with spasmodic vignettes that combine dance, song, and dialogue. It flaps like a pair of frenzied wings, spilling anecdotes and interchangeable characters over the crowd.

The performance exudes enough energy to warrant inspection of the nearest Red Bull distributor, and performers Mike Mathieu and Andrew Connor are spot on with their multi-faceted interactions. They stamp and weave with the gracefulness of dancers, they exchange offhand comments like best friends, and they seamlessly shift into fresh vignettes as the previous story settles in. Indeed, The Cody Rivers Show demands high octane from its audience, but the effort is unnoticed as you laugh and guffaw until your jaw hurts.

Appearing on stage as slow-motion characters with low, pinched voices, the duo allows a moment to pass before they unleash their comedic fury. They are nimble trespassers in a world inhabited by strange, recognizable characters, yet they create this world and rule it like kings who enjoy intelligent humor and practical jokes.

If anything evokes the act’s narrative, it is a series of ellipses — think Celine in a good, theatrical mood: characters and dialogue alternate with the slap of a hand on a knee, and then it’s off to another scenario.

In one scene two bumbling doctors describe the fate of the planet. They mindlessly repeat themselves, saying, “It’s bleak,” and “If you bemoan our generation,” until the spin grows laughable, and the audience realizes the gag. Another spans continents. The duo morphs from place to place and features a variety of characters, all of which turn out to be interconnected. The storyline is too complicated and disjointed to explain, but to their credit, The Cody Rivers Show brings it together flawlessly.

Later, a spawned duo appears to track the movements of the two performers. But the spawn speak another language, a comb-over of sentences that flips words and readjusts their meanings. There are revisited adages that carry new weight.

“If at first you don’t succeed, then you’re not South Carolina.” Or, “If you can’t stand the heat, stand next to the freezer.”

A magician makes silence disappear; a character reveals he is able to turn into a car, but only when he isn’t riding his bicycle; the duo performs face-to-face theater, a playful way to involve the audience without making everyone grow stiff, and then goes on to hide behind the stage, performing for no one, an experience they deem intense.

That intensity lasts throughout the show. When you stand to leave you feel like you’ve been through a final exam, but instead of hand cramps your jaw aches and your brain buzzes with good cheer.

The Cody River Show jokingly describes one of their vignettes as the new generation of theater. If that’s true we need to extend thanks to their brains, and for the memories.

The Cody Rivers Show • Piccolo Fringe • 1 hour • $15 • June 5 at 8 p.m.; June 6 at 6 p.m.; June 7 at 5 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • (888) 374-2656

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